When it comes to the level of care companies are expected to show their employees these days, the bar has risen. Promoting healthier diets by changing menus in the cafeteria or launching bike-to-work campaigns are designed to increase workers’ well-being, but there is also the question of ergonomics, and how employers look after a workforce that sits in chairs for much of the day, often making repetitive movements.
Trackballs are at the forefront of the new methods being used by conscientious employers, reducing the incidents of joint pain and repetitive stress injuries associated with hours of computer work. Trackballs also offer the advantage of improving productivity and, as any head of IT or procurement will tell you, being able to show evidence of that is crucial to demonstrating a return on investment.
First, let’s start with the health benefits. The computer mouse has been around for decades, and, as with most technological products — think cars, televisions and watches — they continue to improve over time. After the scroll wheel and the wireless mouse, now is most certainly the era of the trackball.
Trackballs minimize the wrist movement required by a regular mouse that can often lead to aches and pains. The wide sweeping movements that are sometimes needed from a mouse to navigate across a screen are eliminated, with the ability to move across multiple screens given to a spinning ball. Moving left and right, up and down, your fingers are capable of performing all the actions your wrist used to, with just a fraction of the movement. All that clicking and dragging, especially for those that work across two monitors, can take its toll, and this is one of the problems that trackballs — which have been around since the 1990s but have only just caught fire — address effectively.
The accuracy of trackballs has been commended by professionals from graphic designers to accountants, meaning an increase in productivity due to the time saved by easier cursor navigation. Sound engineer Ryan Sanchez, a TV and movie specialist who has worked on projects including “The Walking Dead” and “Black Sails”, performed his own bit of research to determine exactly how much time a trackball was saving him after he switched from a mouse and found that his productivity had risen by 15% as a result of the change.
A telling development has been the widespread adoption of trackballs by gamers, who are a community that can always be relied upon to pick out the best performing computers and computer accessories for optimum performance. While office professionals might not be taking their trackball home to test out with the latest version of “Call of Duty”, they should take confidence from the gamers’ endorsement of a trackball’s accuracy.
As with most scenarios that involve replacing something you use every day, there is an adjustment period of a few hours or days you can expect with a trackball, and during this time accuracy won’t be as high as it will once you’ve gotten accustomed to your new accessory.
Practical as Well as Productive
Professionals who spend time on the road are discovering that wireless trackballs are perfect travel companions. Not only do they fit into a pocket in your laptop bag or backpack, they also require minimal space. This is because all the required movement is achieved through the ball, so you can wave goodbye to your mouse pad!
What Does the Future Hold?
At Kensington, we always try to stay ahead of the game when it comes to the development of trackballs and the added controls they can offer users. While those who are making the switch from a mouse to a trackball might prefer to choose a basic model, more experienced users might prefer the host of other time-saving technologies now available. Volume, forward and back buttons, as well as play and stop can all be facilitated by some of our latest models, and we expect the demand for advanced controls to continue as more office professionals decide to “play ball”.